Last year, J.C. Penney saw what every big retailer had been seeing for years: the threat of Amazon and other new competitors rising to destroy their business.
So J.C. Penney brought in a bold new CEO. Ron Johnson had already created Apple Store, a chain of physical stores where people flocked to shop. Before that, he had revamped Target.
And Johnson had a plan for J.C. Penney: Tell customers they don't have to spend time anymore clipping coupons or waiting for sales to happen. Instead, the store would offer fair prices on its merchandise every day.
The Obama administration has filed a friend of the court brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down California's ban on gay marriage as a denial of "equal protection under the law." But the brief does not call for the abolition of all state bans on same-sex marriage.
The case now before the high court tests the constitutionality of California's Proposition 8, a referendum narrowly passed by voters in 2008 that reinstituted a ban on gay marriage.
A pair of mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles are lined up for a convoy to Kandahar Airfield. One of the trucks broke down before leaving Forward Operating Base Frontenac. The unit has to move out 50 vehicles from the compound.
Credit Sean Carberry /NPR
Surplus razor wire is seen at the scrap yard on the base. For years units dumped trash and surplus construction materials there, and now the 2-3 Field Artillery has to clear it out.
In addition to training and equipping Afghan soldiers, U.S. forces in Afghanistan have another critical mission: packing up more than 11 years worth of equipment and sending it home. The number of containers to move out is in the six figures, and some question whether everything can be shipped out by the end of 2014.
Credit Left photo by Rufus Isaac/AAAS; Right photo courtesy of Daniel M.N. Turner
Wild bees, such as this Andrena bee visiting highbush blueberry flowers, play a key role in boosting crop yields.
Credit Dan Charles / NPR
Hired beekeepers work to pollinate an almond orchard near Snelling, Calif. Wild bees play a critical role in helping honeybees pollinate crops, but they often can't survive on modern monoculture farms.
Some of the most healthful foods you can think of — blueberries, cranberries, apples, almonds and squash — would never get to your plate without the help of insects. No insects, no pollination. No pollination, no fruit.
When NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health asked parents and caregivers in our new poll whether getting a good night's sleep is important, families overwhelmingly told us that sleep is a high priority.
But almost all said that it's difficult to pull off. And studies suggest this is especially true for teenagers.
Johannes Vermeer's Girl With a Pearl Earring is easy to fall in love with — she's young, dewy, beautiful (Scarlett Johansson played her in the 2003 movie about the painting), and she looks right at you. But the 17th-century Dutch master's Woman in Blue Reading a Letter is different — her face is shadowed and she stands in profile, totally absorbed in her letter.
When Linda Hernandez was growing up in Lincoln, Neb., in the 1960s, her family was one of the few Latino families in town. And that sometimes made school life difficult, she says.
"We had to sit in the back of the class and stay after school and clean the erasers when the other kids didn't have to do that," says Linda, now 60. "But both my parents laid down the law and said, 'You had to go to school.' "
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish. This evening, the Obama administration filed a friend of the court brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down California's ban on gay marriage, but the brief does not call for abolition of bans on same-sex marriage across the country. NPR legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg joins us in the studio. And, Nina, just to start, remind us quickly how this case actually came to be.
Hear Laura Sydell's report for Morning Edition by clicking the audio link.
Groupon co-founder Andrew Mason has been fired as the daily-deal company's CEO, one day after Groupon posted financial results that showed it lost $67.4 million during 2012. Board chairmen Eric Lefkofsky and Ted Leonsis will jointly fill the CEO post on an interim basis.
When singer Thom Yorke stepped away from his influential rock band Radiohead in 2006 to release The Eraser, many thought the quirky electronic project was a one-off. Not so, it turns out. Yorke and producer Nigel Godrich called on rock-star friends for a tour, and since then, the group has convened occasionally in the studio.
There are few things in life more joyful than discovering a giant oil or natural gas field in Texas. You're suddenly rich beyond your wildest dreams. When the scope and size of the natural gas reservoir in the Barnett Shale in North Texas first became apparent, there were predictions that the find would last 100 years.
Well, that was over the top. But University of Texas geology professor Scott Tinker, who designed and authored a new study of the Barnett Shale, says there's still a lot of gas down there, even after a decade of drilling.
As baseball emerges from its winter hibernation, one of the game's greatest and most controversial figures, Pete Rose, is back in the news.
The all-time hits leader has been banned from baseball since 1989 for gambling on the game.
It appears fallout continues: A new batch of Topps baseball cards lists some of his many records, but not his name. It's a reminder of Rose's singular status as a Major League Baseball pariah. It also raises the question, with so much bad behavior by top athletes, is it time to re-evaluate Rose's status?
Originally published on Thu February 28, 2013 5:17 pm
If New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was hoping for a return invite to the big CPAC convention this year, he probably should have thought of that before he bad-mouthed House Speaker John Boehner a couple of months back.
Christie was incensed by the House's failure to pass a relief bill helping victims of Superstorm Sandy, which hammered New Jersey and the rest of the Northeast last autumn. In typical Christie style, he did not pull any punches.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.
Now to a developing story about a major Supreme Court case. NPR has previously reported that the Obama administration would file a Friend of The Court Brief, urging The Court to strike down a ban on same-sex marriage in California. Well, today is the deadline to file that brief but it has not yet been filed.
The network of political groups headed by conservative industrialists David and Charles Koch spent millions of undisclosed dollars in last year's elections. Now, after failing to help Republicans win the White House or the Senate, the Koch brothers are re-examining the network, its goals and strategies.
As Pope Benedict XVI left the Vatican and his papacy, he slipped out of his trademark red shoes and put on a pair of Mexican leather loafers. The shoes, actually three pairs, two burgundy and one brown, were a gift to the Pope during his trip last year to Mexico.
Over the past few years, Take Five's theme-based jazz lists have covered a wide variety of subjects. We've covered the careers of legends, the cutting-edge work of up-and-coming artists, styles, periods, holidays, regional scenes and more. Today, Take Five goes "meta" and presents a list of songs about... lists.
The lyrical conceits of these five songs are simply to list things. And, of course, feel free to suggest your favorite songs about lists that weren't included here. ("What, no 'Route 66'? Really?")
Great deeds start out as current events, move on to history, and eventually, with some craft and embellishment, become folklore and legend. This process is central to the structure of Bryan Singer's Jack the Giant Slayer, which merges elements of the familiar folktale of "Jack and the Beanstalk" with the less ubiquitous "Jack the Giant Killer." It sets the story as a kind of midpoint between one "true" story that has become a legend for Jack, just as the events of Jack's "true" story have supposedly passed into the realm of a simple folk story.
President Obama minced no words when he talked about how the looming budget cuts known as sequestration could hurt the Justice Department.
"FBI agents will be furloughed. Federal prosecutors will have to close cases and let criminals go," Obama said.
Starting late Friday, if Congress and the White House can't come to an agreement, the Justice Department will face $1.6 billion in cuts — about 9 percent of its budget. Attorney General Eric Holder told a group of state law enforcement officials who met in Washington this week that the situation looks ugly.
It's a mark of a great filmmaker when a movie is felt first and understood later, allowing audiences to intuit their way through a fog of mystery and sensuality before finally getting a clear view of the landscape. Best known for an operatic trio of revenge thrillers — the second, Oldboy, won the Grand Prix at Cannes in 2004 and a fervent cult following — South Korean genre maestro Park Chan-wook expresses florid emotion in cool, impeccable, gothic language.
I grew up on "Hava Nagila," and I'll admit it's not the catchiest of tunes. The ingenuous Hebrew lyrics ("Come! Let us rejoice and be happy!") don't wear well in our age of knowing irony and ennui.
Hip young Israelis wince at the very mention of the song, and for many Diaspora Jews, a few bars of the tune are all it takes to recall that excruciating moment late in a fancy wedding or bar mitzvah, when the band invites all remaining guests (tipsy uncles included) to kick up their heels — and then go home already.
Explosions rattle the crew. The air is turning fetid. And the captain has ordered a descent toward "crush depth." Yet everything is on course in Phantom, the newest model of the old submarine-from-hell picture.
But the predictability of writer-director Todd Robinson's film is, well, predictable. There are only so many things that can happen in the close quarters of an imperiled sub. What Robinson purports to do is show those familiar undersea events from a different vantage point. All the characters in Phantom serve in the Soviet navy of the 1960s.
Undersea things — iridescent creatures, mossy rocks, silky-slimy plants — are just weird. They're fascinating by their very nature, often barely resembling anything we have on land. Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Verena Paravel's half doc, half art project Leviathan capitalizes on that strangeness while linking it to the more prosaic world of commercial fishermen plying their trade off the coast of New Bedford, Mass.
Our next book club adventure takes us on a journey that is familiar to people across generations: We will be taking a trip down the yellow brick road with The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, first published in 1900. It is one of the most beloved stories in popular American culture, but over the decades, the book has taken a back seat to the wildly successful Wizard of Oz film.